Although this song may not deal directly with this blog, it is one of my favorite Needtobreathe tunes.
I have found myself saying the words “The church needs to breathe” lately, and I thought I would share what I mean by that.
Last year I read And: The Gathered AND Scattered Church written by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. Their previous book was entitled The Tangible Kingdom, a book that describes how Christians and the church ought to make God’s Kingdom tangible. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it. After Matt and Hugh wrote this first book, they travelled and spoke to different churches across the United States and Canada. Those hearing their story were surprised to find out that Matt and Hugh were pastors… of churches! Of churches that had worship services! See the book is a call for Christians to go. The Tangible Kingdom calls on Christians to go out into this world and to bring the church and the presence of Christ into this world in real, practical and applicable ways. This led some to interpret them saying that the large group gathering- historically known as ‘going to church’- is unimportant. Matt and Hugh’s call for the church reminded Christians that the church is made up of people. The church is a ‘building of people’, not a building of bricks or a particular time of the week. But Matt and Hugh had no intentions to neglect the call and place of the local church and the large group gathering. So as a follow-up to The Tangible Kingdom Matt and Hugh wrote And in order to emphasize that in order to go, your need to gather! In order to go out together, you need to come to gather.
As a church planter, the goal for me is to hold the gathering and scattering in constant and healthy tension. The gathering and scattering of the church is just like breathing. If you breathe in and hold it, your body will be filled with carbon dioxide which can’t give us ongoing life. If you breath out and hold it, every ounce of oxygen in your body will disappear and life will burn out. The same applies to a congregation: If a local congregation constantly breathes in, then koinonitis (Rick Warren’s diagnosis for churches that suffer from the inflammation of fellowship) sets in. Growth stops and navel gazing becomes the default activity. Members of the church hold fast to programs, not people. Preservation becomes the priority as opposed to reform. Many churches suffer from koinonitis, and it is killing local church institutions. On the flip side, if a local church constantly breathes out and just does, then burn out ensues and halts the good work altogether.
Needtobreathe is my favorite band, so it’s just fitting that I keep reminding myself that the church needs to breathe. It’s a simple principle, really. It’s not rocket science. Are you breathing in or breathing out? Are you breathing at all? Remember, the Bible talks about the Spirit of God as the Ruach- the Wind! He’s the one that needs to be doing the breathing through the local church and in Christians sent out on God’s mission.